Viva Estates – promoting good quality?

I found this article on VivaEstates.com today:

http://www.vivaestates.com/blog/2011/09/24/costa-del-sol-real-estate-websites-or-tricks-of-the-trade-1/

It says how much they hate “so-called” real-estate agents who have a nice website but a small or non-existent office. They go on to say how “…you are being conned” by companies who use “…single landing pages that are also there simply to capture a client’s data”

What VivaEstates.com obviously don’t realise is that landing pages are a very good “white hat” way of capturing people’s data for marketing a product. Landing pages have been an essential part of online advertising for many years and I regularly use them myself.

The author, one Chris McCarthy, then goes on to criticise people who utilise Google AdWords to market their sites implying that this is a method used by “Instant” agencies. This is hilarious! Google Adwords should be an integral part of any online marketing campaign for any industry. This is especially true for real-estate in Spain. See for yourself, enter “real-estate spain” into Google and see what you get. I get 258,000,000 results – the competition is tough. Are Viva missing out? Something is obviously not working for them otherwise they would be thanking Google for all the traffic and saying what a good response they get from their email campaigns and landing pages.

A further section of this hilarious article entitled “Don’t stop at the Homepage or Property Search” tells you to find out about the company by reading their “About Us” page.

I agree that there are many agents who will try and rip you off. Some will even take the time to write articles criticising other agents’ methods ;-)

I would agree that you need to check out any agent before handing any money over and my suggestions are as follows:

Search in Google for the agents name but add any of the following words:  scam, fraud, complaints, rip-off.

For example search in Google for “Viva Estates complaints” or “Viva Estates fraud” or “Viva Estates scam“. You’ll be amazed what you find considering the article they have just written!

You may also want to visit The Rip-Off Report to see what else these conscientious agents have been up to!

Having never worked at, or dealt with, Viva Estates in any way I am not able to criticise their business practices personally. I am however in a position to comment on their hypercritical article as I have lived in Spain for over 7 years and have worked in real-estate for the whole time. I am fully aware of all the scams and dodgy selling methods that were used by most of the agents on the coast, including Viva Estates, and many complaints were received and many upheld. It was rumoured that the rising number of complaints was one of the reasons that Viva Estates closed down only to re-open re-branded as Your Viva.

Just a shame they weren’t smart enough to change the domain name too as they still use vivaestates.com.

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About JustMe
I've been working in real-estate in Marbella for over eight years but I'm not a salesman - never have been. I write this blog to share interesting news about Spain's real-estate market, politics, and general Spanish news.

5 Responses to Viva Estates – promoting good quality?

  1. Chris McCarthy says:

    I don’t quite get what you are complaining about here?

    I was just pointing out that anyone can set up an fancy looking website in a morning and really it have no credence to it at all, so people maybe should be careful to just check into this a bit more.

    As to the other stuff, attacking us because of a post on rip off report, well that’s all a bit bizarre really, I have been ‘out’ in the open on Spanish Property Insight for some 6 years I think, it is the most popular forum and yet a pretty hairy place to be if you are in real estate.

    On the day that the rip off report was posted, I had made a comment – which I said I might regret – on SPI that if you searched the internet you wouldn’t find anything negative about VIVA, and you don’t, at least nothing that can be substantiated, the person who posted on rip off, knows obviously that unlike every other site – you cannot remove a comment, you have to pay $2,000 or some such to have it arbitrated but it will never be removed – it is very sad really.

    But it doesn’t matter, if you have sold 11,500+ properties as we have, you would think there would be an internet full of negativity if we represented anything like what you have said here.

    I am sorry to have offended you in some way, but my post was simply to highlight that people should just be careful of the sites that WordPress and the likes can create within an hour.

    I thought it was good advice and a bit of caution.

    I am happy to debate it with you on this blog or on our own, but just ripping into us with no basis is a bit harsh I feel.

    Point made in return.

    thanks

    Chris McCarthy

  2. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for taking the time to reply.

    I wasn’t attacking you or Viva. I was highlighting the hypocrisy. I also didn’t write this because of the rip-off report, I wrote it in response to your article.

    I am curious as to why you think landing pages denote low-quality agents? I would also like to know why you think Google Adwords is not a valid method of increasing exposure? That is precisely what it’s for!

    Surely one of the problems with Viva Estates (they weren’t the only ones) was that they had a huge office, loads of company cars etc meaning massive overheads? One of the benefits of smaller agencies (small enough to be run from home) is the lack of overheads meaning a better deal for customers. This is true in any industry. You have more pressure to sell to ensure the big salary bill is paid, along with the building rent and company car taxes. That extra pressure is surely one of the reasons why MRI and yourselves developed the problems highlighted.

    Basically I found it a little rich for you to be warning people about “dodgy” agents on the coast when everyone on the Costa del Sol is well aware of you and your connection to Viva Estates and it’s dodgy dealings.

    No matter how you badge your company you can’t escape a bad reputation here on the coast – deserved or not.

    I accept that things have changed here and the kind of selling tactics we saw five or six years ago don’t work any more – buyers are more clued up these days due to the amount of negative press Spanish real-estate received. I’m sure you and Viva.com are totally above board and legal. I would only suggest that you leave the advice about agents to non-agents as yours would always seem a little biased!

    I also pointed out that I have had no direct experience with Viva or yourself and was therefore not attacking Viva’s business practices.

    As a footnote, well done for selling over 11,000 properties but those numbers don’t mean anything to the people who lost their life savings or were sold illegal properties by Viva Estates, and don’t say they didn’t because they did.

    • Chris McCarthy says:

      I can’t really see the hypocrisy in my own blog article, but then hypocrites never can I suppose. So if I am one, then that is my mistake and I suppose I have to learn from it.

      I didn’t see your response, but before this, I wrote a note back about Landing Pages and Google Adwords. I hope I have covered that, i think both are perfectly viable and valuable to everyone both people promoting on and using the internet.

      My point was to back up, that if you want to set up a website in the morning, you can have lots of leads if you pay for them by the afternoon, and then was to explain this is how!

      As to your view on VIVA Estates, I would just say that I think you have to be careful what you assume really. I certainly haven’t left a trail of unpaid people, bills or anything else that would stop me walking down the street with my head up and able to look anyone in the eye. My office door was and is still whenever I am there, always open, anyone can walk int and talk to me.

      If I had done what others may certainly have done, then I might have experienced the massive wave of negativity that certain other companies did receive, and yet I have never, ever asked any blog, forum or website to remove any mention of VIVA or my name in any way.

      I believe in complete openness and transparency, it is bloody hard to face up to your failings though I have to admit, and I have apologised for a good few of them on SPI, but if you are not ashamed of anything you have done, well I suppose that is one good reason for keeping the name VIVA alive, and not coming up with some other concoction or invention don’t you think?

      Again, as to problems in a company and such like, with due respect I think you have to be careful what you assume, because you don’t really know the facts, and actually the facts could be very boring indeed, but very different to your assumption.

      But you entirely 100% right, it is a bit rich for one agent to be warning against other agents – it is and I am right there to be shot at for it – but if I don’t tell you the tricks of the trade, who is going to?

      I should put a waiver or disclaimer in front though, that says I shouldn’t be the one doing this. If I was in the Magic Circle I would be thrown out I suppose. And I suppose I am going to perhaps put a few other noses out of joint along the way to, but would you rather I just wasn’t there at all?

      Finally, you damn right, you can’t escape a bad reputation on the coast, I don’t think we have one as it happens, deserved or not, we are certainly out there to be shot at, whether it be because of the noise created by our own website or via HOT Properties. We have profile that makes us an easy target. However, it is swings and roundabouts I feel.

      But people are the best judges and they can see for themselves whether we deliver or not.

      I have always been above board and legal yes, and remain so.

      As to your rather emotive ending, we actually did have a client once who was losing a good chunk of their life savings because of an error on our part, yet we personally paid him and his wife every penny, out of our pockets because we screwed up monumentally. I can give you his name and contact if you like, ihe can tell you the story, and I haven’t myself met him or talked to him in about 4 years or so, so it isn’t a set up job.

      But frankly, did we sell some illegal properties? Well yes, I think we did, but when were they illegal? Well subsequently it was found that some indeed were, and I think we can safely say that EVERY SINGLE agent on the Costa del Sol sold the same properties without any idea that they were illegal. I would like to put that one on the lawyers but actually, no one comes out of that with any credit really. Did we do promote anything or sell anything knowing it to be illegal, no we didn’t, in fact we steered a helluva lot of people away from the wrong properties when we could easily have sold them.

      As a final note to that, again, there are no VIVA Action Groups, I think the reason for that is there is no one client that we would not have followed up, supported and done our very best to look after. And who would not have been dealt with personally by myself.

      We to be fair just didn’t have that many complaints and still don’t thank goodness.

      But like when I posted on SPI that you could scour the internet and find nothing wrong said about VIVA, and how I might regret it, well I suppose I could get some flood of complaints now… But truly I doubt it somehow, like I said I have been on SPI for fully six years, wide open to be shot at good and often.

      So, perhaps cut us some slack, we are not quite what you might think we are, but I can quite see how you might think we may be! Is that fair>

      Cheers and thanks for allowing me to reply.

  3. Chris McCarthy says:

    Oh, and yep, your right about Google Adwords they are of course good to use and very valuable, it is just if you are a bit dodgy let’s say, they can be used in a negative way let’s say!

    As can landing pages with which there is nothing wrong either, just sometimes, some users don’t get what they can be, I know I didn’t for a loooong time.

    I wasn’t knocking any of that per se. Just saying beware, and if you don’t like us that’s fine, check out some more sites and remember how you got there if they don’t altogether stack up. Because it is EASY to mislead people on the internet… hey you only got to go and post on rip off report.

    Wasn’t rip off closed down as well recently? Is it not perhaps a bit of dodgy money making operation all of its own?

  4. Thanks Chris, a thorough reply there!

    I would like to confirm that my comments were not a personal attack on either you or VIva as I have no direct experience with either party.

    My comments consisted of my opinion, some rumours and my experience in Spanish real-estate.

    Regarding the Rip-Off report – yes, it’s old and probably outdated. As to the life of their site I have no idea. I don’t follow it.

    Thanks for setting the record straight regarding Viva.

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